Let’s imagine for a moment that D.C. United reached a deal on a stadium to call its own. (Hey, stop laughing, this is serious!) Let’s also imagine that, tired of playing at the lovable wreck known as RFK Stadium, United decided to set up camp at an interim venue while the new digs were being built. Let’s imagine that temporary spot was Byrd Stadium at the University of Maryland.
What would the game-day experience be like?
Seating capacity: 54,000. Too big for United’s purposes but only 8,000 more than RFK and not nearly as cavernous as FedEx Field (80,000+).
Private suites: 63. Suites attract suits. Suits have money.
Seating: Mostly bleachers. Consider them terraces.
Sightlines: Built for sports played on rectangle fields (football, soccer, lacrosse). RFK was built with baseball in mind.
Field surface: Natural grass, man. (But turf is coming.)
Field dimensions: My understanding is that a soccer pitch between 70 and 73 yards wide and 115 to 118 yards long could fit on the playing surface of a stadium that was once surrounded by a running track.
Other occupants: About six Maryland football games through September, October and November. About six Maryland lacrosse games through March and April.
Major roadways: Route 1, Baltimore-Washington Parkway, University Blvd., Kenilworth Ave., Greenbelt Road ... and, um, I-95 and the Beltway.
Parking: Lots of lots and garages within walking distance. Watch for pesky parking tickets.
Metro access: College Park station is 1.6 miles away. Shuttle buses necessary. The walk from Stadium-Armory station to RFK is four-tenths of a mile.
Nearby food and drink: Route 1 college hangouts, including Ledo Pizza, a DCU sponsor. (R.I.P., the Vous.)
Tailgating: It’s got football, so it’s got tailgating.
Alcohol: Sorry, prohibited inside the stadium. (See “tailgating.”)
Soccer tradition: Currently No. 1 NCAA team in nation with 13-1-2 record. National titles in 2005 and 2008. Former UMD players in MLS include Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Graham Zusi, Chris Seitz, Zac MacMath, Rodney Wallace, Stephen King, Danny Califf, Marc Burch, Robbie Rogers, Jason Garey, Jeremy Hall, Ethan White, Matt Kassel. Terps in Europe: Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson.
Wildlife: Terrapins welcome, raccoons banned.